Thursday, December 14, 2017

I Like #46

Not too many pictures to share this week, all the ones I took were of my Christmas cacti and my dogs, but still lots of things to like!

1.  I like podcasts!  I really enjoy listening to podcasts and I'm always on the lookout for new ones.  If any of you have any to suggest, please leave them in the comments.  This week I've been particularly enjoying The Honest Designers Show.  It's primarily about the nuts and bolts of making a living as a designer, but I find it quite interesting and many things are things I think about maybe being someday applicable to an art business.

2.  I like Christmas music!  I like all kinds of Christmas music, classical, pop, oldies, but my favorite Christmas albums are the three by Amy Grant and Roger Whitaker's Christmas album.  I had the first Amy Grant one as a little kid and have always loved it.  This is my favorite song from the Roger Whitaker Album.  Hallelujah It's Christmas.

3.  I like starting new things!  I've begun to work on my newest art quilt, and it's one that consists of little pieces I cut up from other projects.  Right now I'm in the design phase, but it's been lots of fun!






4.  Just for good measure, I like my flowers and my dogs!  And yes, in case you're wondering, that is Bentley trying to crawl into my lap by climbing over the end table.  Alas.





Hope you guys are having a good week and finding time to prepare for the holidays!  Thanks to Lee Anna for linking us up!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I Like #45

Another week of likes!   Advent is proceeding apace, and I'm grateful that I didn't commit to any large art projects with deadlines at the first of the year.  I'm terrible about that, and it usually makes my December even crazier.  It's especially good this year when there's so much extraneous life stuff drawing my attention.

What am I liking this week?

1.  I love my friends (and choral music!).  Canterbury Voices, a large local choral group, teamed up with the OKC Philharmonic for a performance of Handel's Messiah, and my friend Linda and I went to see it last weekend.  It was a really glorious performance, great music, great companionship, and a lovely venue.  What a great way to celebrate advent.  They did both the Christmas and Easter sections. The soloists were really quite good, but as a choral music fan, the choir was the standout for me.



2.  I love that my bathroom is finished!  A couple months ago a bunch of tile broke in my bathtub and there had been plumbing problems in there for a while (this weird jet of water shot straight out of one of the fixtures) so it was time for a bathtub overhaul.  I had some trouble finding someone to do the project, but a recommendation from someone at worked turned up a phenomenal guy who wound up doing a great job.  My bathroom has this very busy 90s colored wannabe William Morris-style wallpaper that I used to hate, but have grown to adore, and I wanted to find some tile that matched the dark brown/dark green/dark red/dark blue look.  After much tribulation I found some gorgeous glazed brown tile which nicely complemented the leftover blue tiles my sister gave me (having saved them from one of her projects).  The whole thing is finally done and I'm thrilled.  It's a terrible room to take pictures in, so the colors are very sallow in the picture, but in real life they're rich and warm. 




3.  I love decorating (obviously).  This week we decorated at work; our department puts up a tree on the main floor, but my lab is on a sort of catch all floor with a bunch of mixed departments, so the last couple years, I've spearheaded the decorating.  My lab (and anyone else who wanted to) gathered up earlier this week and we put out lights and garlands, and cut a bunch of snowflakes, and generally had a festive time.  We even have a sparkly pink Christmas tree (because duh, I'm the one picking out and buying the decorations).  The second one is my tree at the house, just because everyone benefits from gratuitous dog pictures.



4.  It finally froze a couple nights in a row here so my outside flowers are really done, but my red Christmas cactus is at peak bloom and is just fabulous!  I love how the fully open blooms are red with white centers, very Christmassy.  My pink one is just starting to open up, and it makes me happy that the buds are very white but the blooms are bright pink.






I hope you're all having a great week!!  Thanks to LeeAnna for linking us up!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

On Iris: An Update

Some of you may remember my new sculptural quilt "On Iris" that I blogged about a few weeks back.  I thought it was finished, but several different people thought it might be better with something inside to help draw in the viewer.  Just for reference, here's what it looked like the last time I blogged about it:



The more I looked at iris, the more I was inclined to agree, there really isn't a big open space in the middle, it's filled with all sorts of little petals/reproductive parts.  It seemed quite confusing actually, and I had a hard time finding good clear pictures. I finally settled on a style arm with an anther underneath it; botanists and gardeners, apologies if this is all wrong....  The style arm looked mostly like a smaller petal, while the anther looked sort of stick like and fuzzy.

I made my style arm out of leftover pieces I'd painted and quilted for the large iris, and just sort of shaped them until I was reasonably happy.  It was a bit tricky, since I'd recently cut up all the big scraps from the project thinking I was done with it, but I found enough pieces.  For the anther, I stitched a bunch of layers of batting around a piece of wire and fluffed and fluffed and fluffed and then painted.  This was the first version, which was ok from the standpoint of the little petal, but the size, fleshy color, and general protrudingness of the anther made it look way to much like an inappropriate body part, especially in person.  It really jumped out at you in a quite incongruous way. 




So I trimmed it down and reshaped it and repainted it and now I think it looks much more like a flower innard.  I like the way there's now detail inside but it doesn't overwhelm the shape or impact of the large petals.



I'm still not sure I'm completely sold on it, but it'll continue to live there on the wall and if I get inspired, I'll change it up some more.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

I Like #44

Welcome to another week of positive thinking. 

1. Since last week was a holiday I got to spend some wonderful time with a bunch of extend family,  after the whole count I came up with

2 parents
2 grandparents
1 sister
1 brother-in-law
3 uncles
2 aunts
2 nieces and nephews
3 first cousins
2 first cousins-in-law
2 first cousins once removed
2 second cousins once removed
1 partridge in a pear tree.

My mom hosts the festivities and my sister and her family and I always stay there.  In addition to the family, this year between her dogs, my dogs, my sister's dogs, the relative's dogs, and dogs my mom was house-sitting we also had ten dogs at my parents house.  They all got along great and just wandered around in a a pack.  My dogs love visiting, we get to do lots of hiking in the mountains.  One of the days my dad and brother-in-law had to go get a freezer so Mom and my sister and I hiked without them.  Between the three of us we had 8 dogs and two kids on the walk.  Usually most of the dogs go off leash so it's not a big deal, but that morning we encountered a herd of cattle, so everyone had to go back on the leashes.  My 5 year old niece even pitched in, walking my easygoing bullett dog (who wasn't likely to drag her across the countryside after a cow).  You can't see all the dogs in this picture, but maybe you'll get the idea.



2.  I love advent!   Advent, almost more than Christmas, is my favorite time of year; so much good stuff happening, bracketed on both ends with family time.  I successfully brought back another pinon tree from New Mexico, and many thanks to Mike who let me take his car (which has a tie down rack on top), and who even put up my Christmas lights for me while I was gone.  Hooray!  New this year, I pulled out some pompom trim from my stash (thanks Georgia!) and I think it gives a fun feeling to the tree.






3.   Here is Bentley looking totally abandoned and forlorn, just for good measure.   In case you were wondering, he had just come back from a nice walk and breakfast, so the puppy dog eyes are just a ruse.


4.  My Christmas cactus blooms are starting to open!  Yay!


Thanks as always to LeeAnna for linking us up and I hope you guys had a lovely holiday!



Thursday, November 23, 2017

I Like #43

A little bit late for most, but I'm checking in this week with some I likes all the same.

1. I like being home with my family.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, I hope you're celebrating in a meaningful way.  I'm so grateful to have a loving and supportive family- being with them is good for me.

2.  I like the colors in the sky!  Out of focus pictures of course, and it's no fun to drive into the sun (as the afternoon westward trek always is), but the colors are always out of this world.






3.  I like fixing things!  I'm not generally a home DIYer in spite of being crafty, but I do like fixing things that have needed fixing for a while.  Recently I fixed two things: a missing chunk of drywall that needed patching, and a missing floor transition (there was a big crack between the end of the tile and the beginning of the wood floor).  Both of these things should have been straightforward, but wound up taking forever.  Now though they're done so yay!  Next step is to paint the laundry room!

4.  I like my flowers.  My mom's geraniums are huge and gorgeous, I'll try to get some pictures of them for next week, but for now, here's a picture of my precious begonia blooming.

Thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us together and again, Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Like #42

Another week of I likes!

1. I spent most of this weekend deep cleaning/cleaning out my house; a sort of spring cleaning in fall, and while it wasn't a particularly fun activity, it was satisfying to see dirt and dust and a variety of junk removed.  I also did some long-deferred maintenance type things, patching drywall holes, and steam cleaning carpets.  In the process I was at lowe's about 50 different times and every time I walked through this pretty light fixture caught my eye, and I finally decided to treat myself.  I hung it Monday night and I think it looks really pretty in my dining room.  The one that was there was boring but not terrible, so I moved it to a different room, basically just shifting things around so nothing was wasted, sort of a light fixture musical chairs.  It makes me happy to see it there!








2.  I love my pups!  That should go without saying, but they don't always sit still long enough for pictures, so when I can snap one I like to share it.  They snuggle so well together on the dog bed (even though there are two), except on rare occasions when they like a rumpus.



3. I love fall!  This morning it was actually a bit light out when I took the dogs for a walk; in the past couple of weeks I've been up so early it's been still dark out.  This morning I was able to snap a few pictures of the trees in our neighborhood-  right now is peak color time in my neighborhood.  Almost all the trees have turned, but not so much that all the leaves have fallen off.  Some of the pictures are dreadfully out of focus, the dogs were not interested in stopping for photo-ops.






4. I love flowers.  My sunflowers are still blooming, but even more exciting, so are my Chrysanthemums.  They are such perfect fall colors!



Hope everyone is having a good week!  Thanks to LeeAnna for linking us up!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I Like #41

It's been a tough couple of weeks around here but Thanksgiving is in view, and I hope a lot of things will have settled down by then.

1. My family was here this week, parents sister and nieces nephews, and of course that was a blast.  My sister and Dad and I got to have some one-on-one time when we went out to shoot sporting clays, and my mom and sister and I had tons of fun playing games with the kids and doing all sorts of projects.  Alex, my young nephew, is 4, and has gotten so much better at games recently.  He loves the game spot-it which is really tons of fun for kids and adults alike.  So many kids games are painful for adults, so I love finding ones which are fun for all.  That one's definitely a keeper.  The weather was beautiful and we took lots of walks with the kids and dogs; my parents had their dogs with them so we were a household of 6 furbabies for the weekend.  Here's me sitting at the park holding onto the 5 on the walk (Missy stays home from walks).

2. Fall is really truly here!  The trees are turning/have turned, the weather is cooling off, and this morning I even had frost on my car.  I love fall and the cool weather; I think it's my favorite time of year.  I collected a bunch of leaves and dipped them in wax and made simple garlands out of them, an idea I found on Erin Boyle's blog.  I didn't have any beeswax, but I just used an old white candle.  I made three garlands (none of which I have pictures of of course), and they're so pretty but also something I can toss at the end of the year and not have to store or pack up or find a box for.  Here they are drying in my kitchen.




3. I loved these colors this morning!  I was headed into work around 630 this morning and caught this shot of colors reflecting off the Devon tower.  Rainbow sky!  Made me feel hopeful.


Hope you're all having a good week.  Linking up with LeeAnna as ever!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

I Like #40

Another week of I likes.

1.  I love that I have a close family and that they are coming to see me today.  I'm so grateful for so much love and support around me.

2. Really just number 1, but I thought I'd share these cute birds I took a picture of in my backyard.  I like them!  And a better picture (slightly) of my sunflowers from last week.







Also, for anyone who is interested, yesterday I posted all about my finished iris quilt which I shared a sneak peek of last week.

Hang in there for another week everyone.  Thanks LeeAnna

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

New Quilt: On Irises

I've been working on this quilt (is it a quilt?  what do you think?)  for a few months now and finally have it finished. Mike took some pictures of it last week so I thought it was finally time to share it.  Some of you may remember my giant abstracted interpretation of a dahlia and this is another piece in that line.

On Iris, c. 2017, Shannon Conley


Going into it I wanted to do purple and yellow as my primary colors and I wanted to find a way to make it large and 3D but not have to use the fabric stiffener like I did on the dahlia.  I'm still experimenting with different ways to support dimensional fabric pieces, and this time I decided to use a wire infrastructure. 

I had this idea to do three petals, each reaching out of a surrounding frame, one flopped forward and attached to the frame at the bottom and two pointing upward and attached to their frame at the side.  I started by painting my petals, and quickly realized that I needed both front and back to be nicely painted because the "back" of the quilt is actually the "front" of the petal.  If that's clear as mud, stick with me, it might make more sense in a minute.  I started out with three different pieces of purple fabric and three different brown pieces.  The purples were a fairly heavy weight polyester satin, while one of the browns was a similar fabric and the other two were very light weight, almost like a brown and white polka dot chiffon.  I painted them with acrylic and latex paint, and with my fabric very very wet.  I love the way the paint sits on the surface of the purple and blends so fabulously.  Those swirly bits are my favorite part.



After that, I made separate quilt sandwiches for each of the three petals and put several pieces of wire between the layers.  The wire was sufficiently heavy weight that I could NOT quilt over it, so I quilted right up next to it to keep it in place.  I accidentally broke 6 needles during the making of the quilt while dealing with the wire.  After stitching around the wire, I free motion quilted the rest of the petals with lots of fun colors of thread.  Here are the three petals from the brown side and the purple side.





After finishing the quilting, I cut the petals out and started figuring out how I wanted to sculpt it and how I could get it to maintain it's shape and be self-supporting.


My original plan was to have each petal still attached in it's frame, something like the version below, but I could not get the upper petals to look right that way.  I kept trying different things, but finally realized I was going to have to detach the side petals from their frames.




Here you can see it all pinned up, more or less how the finished quilt was, but at this point nothing was attached, it was all just pinned to the design wall with about a million pins.  I had to make a full frame for the back to hang it from rather than just a top slat.  That meant four pockets to stitch down (yuck), but it was necessary to give the back piece enough stability to support the rest of it without crumpling.  Then there are smaller pockets on the back and the upper petals attach to those.  In the picture below you can see what looks like dark strings sticking up off the top of the left petal, but that is actually roving-coated wire.  I got it at a fiber festival and used it to edge each petal.  That way the edges can be shaped, and the end wire bits can be stuck around to the back of the piece to anchor the petals.




Here's the final flower, completely self supporting, along with some closeups.  I love the way it turned out, especially the strong bright colors and the brown background.  I really love the purple and yellow with the little hints of green where the colors meet up.  And even though getting this to be self-supporting and structurally stable was really challenging, I like this method better than the fabric stiffener.  I'm going to try another method on my next quilt, we'll see how that works.  I'm going to do at least one more of these abstracted flowers, but I haven't decided which one yet.  I'm open to suggestions if anybody wants to nominate something!